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Remarks and a Question-and-Answer Session With Reporters Following a Meeting With Chancellor Helmut Schmidt in Bonn, Federal Republic of Germany

July 14, 1978

THE CHANCELLOR. [in German] Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to take this opportunity to express once again, and completely publicly, the delight not only of the Federal Republic but also of the entire German people over the visit of the American President and his Secretary of State and other advisers and people accompanying him.

We have already worked hard for 3 hours. We still have a little work ahead of us. The President will make Germans happy by taking a trip to Berlin. And then comes another bit of hard work with the so-called summit meeting on Sunday and Monday.

As far as the work so far is concerned, it will probably be best if I let the guests come forward to make a few remarks. After that there will be an opportunity for two or three questions. Then we intend to continue our work while eating. Please, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT. First of all, I want to thank President Scheel and Chancellor Schmidt, the German officials for the superb welcome that they've given us, an opportunity for me to return to Bonn, to revisit Berlin and Frankfurt on this trip.

We've had an opportunity to reassess and to appreciate the firm foundation of mutual purpose and understanding and cooperation and commitment to the strong ties that bind us together politically, economically, and militarily. Under six Presidents, under five Chancellors, as Chancellor Schmidt emphasized this morning, this relationship between the United States of America and the Federal Republic of Germany has been strong and sound. And he and I both agree that it has never been stronger nor more sound than it is today.

The bilateral discussions have been thorough. We've assessed relations between our own two countries and the cooperative attitude that we enjoy to try to preserve and to enhance peace throughout the world. We've discussed economic problems that we face together, and we have prepared ourselves very thoroughly, I believe, for a successful summit conference that will commence day after tomorrow.

These discussions are very helpful to me. I've never met any other world leader who has been of more assistance in my comprehension of economic matters than has Chancellor Schmidt.

The strength and independence of the Federal Republic of Germany is a firm foundation, as is our own, for a very frank discussion, not only of compatabilities but of differences of opinion. And these discussions are very fruitful in identifying those areas where our own national interests might be at some small variance.

The purpose of a summit conference is to resolve the differences that we can, to assess the differences that remain, to establish common goals, and to recruit the parliamentary and congressional leaders, the general public, the private sector of our free societies to join us in realizing those goals.

In every respect I feel both grateful and also confident about the relationship that exists between the people of Germany and the people of the United States.

And I look forward, Mr. Chancellor, to the continuation of our visit throughout your country and the successful conclusion of a very important summit conference with the other Western democratic leaders.

I thank you for giving me this opportunity to speak briefly to the German and American press. And as you say, we're now available for a few questions.


Q. Could you tell us, sir, both of you, what you think about the Ginzburg sentence and the Shcharanskiy verdict in the Soviet Union?

THE PRESIDENT. It's obvious to us that the courageous dissidents in the Soviet Union, Mr. Shcharanskiy and Ginzburg, have been accused and tried and punished, will be punished because they have supported those who sought the basic freedoms that were guaranteed in the Final Act of the Helsinki agreement, which was signed voluntarily by the Soviet Union itself, and because they supported basic commitments that are also guaranteed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which the Soviet Union and other members of the United Nations have publicly and officially endorsed. We deplore this action on the part of the Soviet authorities.

Our sympathies and our support remains with Mr. Shcharanskiy, Orlov, and with Ginzburg and others. Obviously, we have no mechanism nor any desire to interfere in the internal affairs of the Soviet Union. But the arousing of public condemnation around the world for the violation of these principles of human freedom is a legitimate role for me as a leader and for the people of our country.

We seek in spite of this adverse circumstance to cooperate with the Soviet Union whenever possible. And we are continuing to make progress in some areas which are crucial to the safety of the world. Secretary Vance has just returned from a constructive meeting with the Foreign Minister of the Soviet Union on the SALT agreements. And I'll be visiting Berlin, which is now benefiting from the Quadripartite Agreement, which is supported by the Soviet Union and the Western Allies.

So, we do condemn this action in the Soviet Union. At the same time we want to continue a peaceful relationship with all countries, and our voice will not be stilled as we consider these violations and others around the world of basic human rights.

Q. But we'll take no further action?

THE CHANCELLOR, [in German] I would like to add another two sentences in complete agreement with that which the President has just said. There are not only court cases in the Soviet Union. There are also cases in other countries. We Germans are particularly disturbed about the cases against Hubner and Bahro that are taking place these days in the other part of Germany. And I would like very much to make American journalists aware that there are many people in the eastern part of Europe who have to suffer under such accusations and persecutions and judgments far beyond those who at the moment are assuming such a prominent role in the public consciousness.


Q. [in German] What was the reaction of President Carter to the protest of the GDR against the visit by both Chancellor Schmidt and him to Berlin?

THE PRESIDENT. The German Democratic Republic has no role to play in the assessment of compliance with the Quadripartite Agreement. This is an agreement signed by the four nations involved, and the GDR is not a part of that agreement and have no legal nor legitimate role to play as a commentator.

It is completely within the agreement for the Chancellor of Germany to visit West Berlin with me, and I think this is part of the agreement itself, that there be good relations and improved relations and strengthened relationships between the western part of Berlin and the Federal Republic of Germany. So, this is a proper action for us to take, for the Chancellor to take, and the GDR has no legitimate role to play as a commentator.


Q. Mr. President, can you tell us whether you and the Chancellor discussed this morning defense and NATO issues, and particularly the eventual development or deployment of the neutron weapon?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes. [Laughter]

Q. Have you come to any decision on either its development or deployment in Europe?

THE PRESIDENT. No, we've not reached a final decision on this, but we have a very frank and easy and free discussion about this and other matters concerning NATO. The mutual and balanced force reductions, the excessive buildup of the Soviets' very formidable middle-range missiles, such as the SS-20, these are all matters that we have discussed. But we're not prepared to reveal the substance of our discussion.

Q. Well, I wonder if Chancellor Schmidt could tell us his position as to the deployment of this weapon in Germany?

THE CHANCELLOR. I would just like to underline the very short but very precise answer of the President. Ladies and gentlemen, there will be just time for one more question.


Q. Mr. President, can you tell us what economic differences you discussed? What are those economic differences that you have with the Federal Republic?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, there are a number of matters that we have discussed and will be on the agenda for the summit conference involving the other five' leaders. One of them, of course, is the excessive consumption of oil and other energy products in our own Nation; the adverse balance of payments that relate to the United States; the common desire for there to be vigorous growth among the Western democracies; a sharing of commitment to reduce obstacles to free trade.

I think there is no difference that I can detect in the ultimate goals that we hope to achieve. But, obviously, national interests are at variance. We are not nearly so heavily dependent, for instance, upon exports as part of maintaining employment and a vigorous economy, as are the other nations involved. Only 7 percent, roughly, of our gross national product goes to the export trade. I think maybe 25 or 35 percent of Germany's gross domestic product goes to the export of trade.

We don't have differences concerning goals. But there are normal differences of perspective because of the characteristics of our countries.

Q. Do you agree with Chancellor Schmidt that the U.S. oil imports is the greatest problem of international trade?

THE CHANCELLOR. Beg your pardon, sir, there will be another press briefing a little bit more lengthier than occasioned just now. We would like on behalf of the President as well as on my behalf to thank you all and look forward to be seeing you in some of these days. Thank you very much indeed.

Note: The exchange began at 1:08 p.m. in the Chancellory Lobby. The translations of Chancellor Schmidt's remarks and the German reporter's question follow the White House press release.

Following their remarks, President Carter and Chancellor Schmidt proceeded to the Chancellor's Bungalow for a working luncheon.

Earlier in the day, the President participated in the official welcoming ceremony held at Villa Hammerschmidt in Bonn. He then met with West German President Walter Scheel at the villa.

Jimmy Carter, Remarks and a Question-and-Answer Session With Reporters Following a Meeting With Chancellor Helmut Schmidt in Bonn, Federal Republic of Germany Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/247892

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